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  #81  
Old 12-17-2012, 08:10 AM
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For the most part, I agree. I'm not a big fan of Spock's Beard, and while I do enjoy Alpha Rev, Flying Colors is way ahead of them. I don't really know Dave LaRue's background too well, but I can't say I feel the same for Steve Morse and Portnoy.
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  #82  
Old 12-17-2012, 08:11 AM
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4. Zonaria - Arrival Of The Red Sun

As a quick prelude, I really, really don't like this kind of music much anymore. The fact that this is up here is a huge testament to the quality of this particular band. Ever since I heard Zonaria's sophomore release, The Cancer Empire, I realized melodic death metal still holds a place for me, but it has to be done…in only a way Zonaria can. Sure I like other melo death bands, but I've come to terms that Zonaria is the absolute gold standard. This album expanded on qualities I thought to be maxed out. The opening track, with its insanely catchy drum fill, leads to an epic lick that just explodes in the listener's face and continues all the way until the closer. The production on this album is perfect, the guitars sound nice and deep, and there are dynamics and orchestrations on this album left and right that, when added together, really changes the tone of the tracks. The fact that there are growls over this and literally not a trace of cleans doesn't bother me in the slightest. Frankly, it adds to the experience in the way that the vocalist does it. How is it different? I will be the last to give an answer; I simply don't know. At the end of the day, it comes down to taste. And this guy satisfies mine. Now mind you there some stupid lyrics (listen to "The Blood That Must Be Paid"), but as said earlier, lyrical content is an added plus that means little to nothing to me. The music on Arrival Of The Red Sun is gold in a pile of dung, and if you don't listen to this your really doing yourself a disservice.

Fun fact: The old guitarist form Five Finger Death Punch plays on this album. Never judge a book by its cover...

9.8/10

"Arrival Of The Red Sun" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVcxid1Jivs

"My Vengeance Remains" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b333xupF6Ho
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  #83  
Old 12-17-2012, 11:23 AM
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3. Kamelot - Silverthorn

The last album was pretty weak, especially relative to the previous Ghost Opera (which I happened to love). Roy Khan getting axed was another deterring factor that made me believe this album was going to have questionable results. Upon hearing they got boy-wonder Tommy from Seventh Wonder, I was instantly given faith that this would be a smash hit. Sure he didn't write much, if anything at all, but two things: 1) Seventh Wonder write high caliber prog that I just knew he would bring to the table, and 2) 98% of singers would give an arm and a leg to sing half as well as he can. His range and tone is to salivate for. Nevertheless, when "Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)" was released, I doubled down and was certain the album was going to knock my socks off. Amazingly, it did more than that. Youngblood really went all out and revitalized the band with some of their highest quality music in years. The catchiness and structure of the choruses in some songs could easily be in radio friendly songs. The dynamics on this album are something that really caught my attention as well; pauses, crescendos, you name it and its been applied. It all flows so well together I can still hardly believe it as I listen to it again and again. This is power metal as it should be done, as long as you have the unrestrained vocal abilities such as Tommy. I could go on and on, but just listen to it instead. It speaks for itself.

9.8/10

"Solitaire" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8dLNJJPPe0

"Ashes to Ashes" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWSLSDtAbJ8
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  #84  
Old 12-17-2012, 11:49 AM
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I loved Ghost Opera as well. If anything, it was released too soon which caused it to fly under the radar. Seventh Wonder is brilliant, as is Tommy's singing.
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  #85  
Old 12-17-2012, 12:28 PM
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2. Damnation Angels - Bringer Of Light

This was at #1 for a long time, and it deserves to be. But lists are simply snapshots of a person's thoughts at a point in time, so I don't hold them too strictly. Anyway, upon searching bands playing ProgPower this year, I am always open to at least giving a chance to every band on the bill. It doesn't get easier than a progressive festival. I found ReinXeed through this too. However the real diamond in the rough were the UK's Damnation Angels. The power of the music from start to finish is a feat that not many achieve, yet these guys did it in a debut album. To me, that is beyond impressive. Damnation Angels take symphonic metal to true 'symphonic' levels, not just having synths do your dirty work. I'm sure they use synths for all the orchestra sounds, so just to clarify that's not what I mean. They manage to input beautiful orchestrations that fit perfectly into the music, almost telling a story and painting a portrait of the feelings one should feel when listening to it. It's hard to describe. Nevertheless, the music on Bringer Of Light is of the highest quality a power metal band can obtain. For this band to upend Kamelot (see above) after all the love I spewed their way isn't easy in the slightest. Maybe it's the 'new' factor, maybe it's the beautiful voice, whatever it is, I lean in this direction. The Oriental inspired track below is the most polarizing track on the album: I love it and it is easily my favorite, however it shows me their potential. I don't mean that they go all Oriental, but they can branch out to use so many different methods of instrumentation to really do what they're already doing…better. Just make something great even greater. To conclude, one who doesn't like power metal and symphonies won't like it. That's easy. Give it a shot if you're up for it though. It's as best as you're going to get this year in that field.

9.9/10

"The Longest Day Of My Life" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmy0y8U7vjE

"Pride (The Warrior's Way)" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNerE4k4htM
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  #86  
Old 12-17-2012, 01:58 PM
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1. Circus Maximus - Nine

To finally arrive at #1 for the year is a nice accomplishment. So without further a due, Circus Maximus' Nine. Having been inactive for quite some time, I was starting to think that this band's days were done. Some members were doing stuff here and there, but nothing related to Circus Maximus. Upon hearing the good news of a new album, I was giddy with excitement. The predecessor, Isolate, was outstanding. And that was 5 years ago. Fast forward to 2012 and we get a progressive metal beauty. It's as if they took Dream Theater's approach to everything prog and put their own European spin on it. Tracks sound like an eclectic mix of the best of the prog world. "Architect of Fortune" pulls out Opeth-like riffs while going into a Rush-like verse. "Reach Within", the first single, has emotional undertones with an uplifting foundation that translates incredibly well. Time signatures and key changes flow through this album without a moment's notice to the listener who isn't informed, and that's when you know they've done everything right. A track-by-track review won't be necessary, but they each have a different place in this masterpiece. If I believed in giving perfect scores, this would definitely be the 10/10, but as I said before, every album has its flaws, as minimal as they are. But I digress. The vocals on this album truly hit you at certain points, along with some melodies and riffs. Circus Maximus went above and beyond the threshold for acceptable progressive material on this album, and I expected nothing less. The fact that they aren't too well known is a travesty, and I sincerely hope this album changes that. They deserve to have the recognition of Dream Theater, and I hope someday they achieve that. All I can say for now is they have my massive kudos for being my favorite album of the year. And with some tough competition out there, I'd say that's quite a feat. Fans who want to hear good music overall should listen to this, start to finish. I hope you enjoyed the list, it was fun doing it, and I look forward to 2013.

9.95/10

"Namaste" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX-CaFsKQoE

"Architect Of Fortune" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKT9V6TVEts
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  #87  
Old 12-17-2012, 07:47 PM
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I really liked Sacrimony and Veritas but wasn't crazy about most of the rest of the stuff from that album.
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  #88  
Old 12-17-2012, 09:16 PM
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I really have to get around to hearing Silverthorn.

And I liked Nine too but not nearly enough for me to put it close to my number 1.
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  #89  
Old 12-17-2012, 10:47 PM
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Fantastic thread. and i must say again i feel proud that I inspired someone so much to check out some of the music I reviewed and have said people enjoy it. Thank you so much!

Killer thread!
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  #90  
Old 12-18-2012, 05:13 AM
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Excellent thread, taste, and write ups, Serpentine. Hail \m/
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